Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bar - The Cornish Arms, Brunswick

For non-locals, Sydney Rd Brunswick can often be an intimidating and unpredictable place, with its infamous bikie northern end and a fairly tired and rundown exterior exposed along the street. (Admittedly, I haven’t spent much time in this area...so a more local experience of the area may improve my feelings for it.)

However, the strip is full of excellent pubs and bars that know how to offer something slightly different, as well as a providing a novel aesthetic for music and pub loving randoms like myself.

Whilst shopping along Sydney Rd recently, utilising the wealth of discount and op shops to find some costumes and accessories for an upcoming "80s" themed birthday party, we headed into The Cornish Arms for lunch.

Despite being 2pm on a very warm Saturday, the place was pretty much empty. Thankfully, the bar staff were active and available.  On entering you are immediately met by a beautiful large L-shaped bar, which is very accessibly and maximises service.  Bar stools, seats, tables, couches are plentiful and with large open front doors the Cornish Arms is a very welcoming place for anyone looking to relax and enjoy some quality pub time.

Inside it is very clean and well maintained. The colour scheme is a classic puby red, black and brown, perfectly suiting the desired "funky-grungy" Sydney Rd persona. The same goes for the suitably dim lighting. Next to the bar there is a pocket stage area that can accommodate DJs and small live acts, but was set up with tables and chairs for dining at the time.

The stereo music in the front bar was at a good level and a plasma tv over the entry provides some random soundless tv watching for anyone interested.

Personally, I thought the tap beer selection was outstanding (for a regular "non-beer" pub). During my visit, 10 bar taps were available, surely catering for all crowds, which included:
  • Little Creatures Pale Ale
  • Fat Yak
  • Broo Lager (first time I had seen this anywhere)
  • Coopers Green
  • Asahi
  • Cascade Green
  • Pure Blonde
  • Cascade Light
  • Melbourne Bitter
  • and a Bulmers Cider tap
And then, best of all, the Beer of the Week option (this week it was the Matilda Bay Bohemian Pilsner) is sensational!  Providing $3 pots or $6 pints for the Bohemian is super excellent value.  You will rarely find any quality pub offering $6 pints these days, especially for a "boutique" beer.

The full drinks menu is clearly presented on chalkboards above the bar, along with the wine and generous pizza/burgers/snacks bar menu and the weekly specials and what's on.

After a drink in the front section ($4 pot of the Little Creatures Pale Ale), we headed out the back to the courtyard beer garden for lunch and to enjoy the sunshine.  The beer garden is small but very well constructed and spaced, continuing the design theme from inside. It presents a classic beer garden atmosphere. The music was fairly loud, as we sat at an empty table close by one of the speakers, which did often detract from our lunch conversation.

Selecting from the full menu, the food was generous and very enjoyable, a quality pub meal.  My open steak sandwich on grilled turkish bread was cooked very nicely and came with some superb fat chips, definitely agreeable with a pint of Bohemian Pilsner.

The Cornish Arms provides the full selection of stuff that I like to find in a pub – good food and drink, decent prices, friendly service, plentiful supply of seat/couch space, pool table and a good supply of street-press and papers for casual reading.  Also, it provides a unique style without being too shiny or posh.  I could have stayed all afternoon and into the night...but had things to do.

On their website the Cornish Arms crew says "...when we decided to renovate the tired but spectacular Sydney road icon we really wanted to put a handsome, edgy Brunswick stamp on it. We wanted to lighten it up - without taking away the ambiance of a dimly lit corner. We wanted to focus our attention on the bar - the heart of any hotel - and ensure that we created a space that would become a Brunswick local for years to come."

Congratulations Cornish Arms, I believe you have done exactly that!


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